Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: A Comparison
Sweet potato and butternut squash are two vegetables that sometimes get overlooked when people shop. For health reasons, both are becoming more popular and you may want to decide on one of them. Therefore, which is better, sweet potatoes or butternut squash?
Butternut squash is better than sweet potatoes because it contains more vitamins and minerals per one cup serving. Butternut squash provides more vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Butternut squash contains less sugar and almost half the calories making it better for weight loss.
This article will examine everything between the two including nutritional value, benefits, taste, texture and more. In addition, can you substitute one for the other?
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Sweet Potato vs Butternut Squash: Nutritional Values
The nutritional value speaks more about the vegetable than anything else. Knowing what you can expect to get out of your vegetables can help you better plan your meals.
Therefore, let’s take a look at a quick rundown of the nutritional values between these two, and then we will discuss them in more detail 1.
Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Nutritional Values
|Nutrient||Butternut Squash (1 Cup, raw)||Sweet Potato (1 Cup, raw)|
|Vitamin A||14,883 IU||18,866 IU|
Butternut squash contains more vitamin C than sweet potatoes 2. In addition, it provides more vitamin E, calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron.
Another nutritional benefit of butternut squash is how much lower in calories and sugar it is compared to sweet potatoes 3.
On the other hand, sweet potatoes contain many of the same vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes also provide more protein, vitamin A, fiber, vitamin B6 and copper than butternut squash.
Since butternut squash contains fewer carbohydrates, this may be important for those who want to consume a low-carb diet. If you’re eating low-carb or want to give it a try, many of my clients follow this 28-Day Keto Challenge with great success.
On the other hand, healthy carbohydrates like the ones from sweet potatoes, brown rice and oatmeal are good for you 4.
I recently wrote about the comparisons between sweet potato and pumpkin. Check out the article and find out which one provided the most nutrients, Pumpkin vs Sweet Potato: A Complete Comparison.
Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: Which is Healthier?
Both of these vegetables contain a load of nutrients beneficial for your health. It’s almost a toss up which one to pick but let’s answer the question, which is healthier, sweet potatoes or butternut squash?
Butternut squash is healthier than sweet potatoes because they contain less calories, sugar and have a lower glycemic index and load than sweet potatoes. Butternut squash also provides more magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin E and vitamin C per one cup serving than sweet potatoes.
Both have similar health benefits, you can choose either food and be fine in your choice. However, butternut squash has the edge with more total vitamins and minerals. Both contain the antioxidant beta-carotene giving them their bright color 5.
Both foods contain nutrients beneficial for blood pressure like calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C. Magnesium helps the blood vessels relax while potassium rids the body of excess fluid.
Vitamin C helps reduce blood vessel damage and increases the availability of nitric oxide. Researchers at John Hopkins University states consuming 500mg of vitamin C daily can help reduce blood pressure 6.
Butternut squash is more beneficial for BP because it contains more of these vitamins and minerals than sweet potatoes.
Vitamin C and E help strengthen the immune system. This is where butternut squash separates itself from sweet potatoes because it contains almost 10 times the number of vitamin C and over double vitamin E.
Vitamin C cannot be synthesized by the body, therefore it can only be obtained through dietary intake of vegetables and fruit. This makes the vitamin C provided by butternut squash valuable for fighting off illnesses 7.
The beta-carotene and vitamin A in both sweet potato and butternut squash are beneficial for the eyes. The beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A which helps prevent dry eyes and fight night blindness 8.
In addition to the above, sweet potatoes and butternut squash can benefit the following:
- Weight loss.
- Lower risk of cancer.
- Digestive system.
Find out how purple sweet potatoes and purple yams compared to each other in my article, Purple Sweet Potato vs Purple Yam: What’s The Difference?
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Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: Which is Better for Weight Loss?
If you are actively trying to lose weight by dieting, you may ask, is butternut squash good for weight loss?
Butternut squash is good for weight loss because it only contains 63 calories per one cup. Butternut squash has a low glycemic load so it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels after consuming it.
Sweet potato also has a low glycemic load, therefore, which is better for weight loss, sweet potato or butternut squash?
Butternut squash has fewer calories than sweet potato making it better for weight loss. One raw cup contains 63 calories compared to 114 for sweet potato. Butternut squash also contains fewer carbohydrates and sugar.
On the other hand sweet potatoes consumed in moderation are not going to make someone gain weight. Both foods are low in total fat 9.
Find out how taro compared to potatoes in my article, Taro vs. Potato – A Complete Comparison.
Sweet Potato vs. Butternut Squash: Taste and Texture
For a lighter approach to this article, it is a good idea to compare the taste and texture between these two powerhouse vegetables. Before we get into it, both vegetables are versatile.
You can take many approaches to cooking them, altering the flavor and texture according to your preferences. Please see the next section about substituting one for the other.
- As the name suggests, sweet potatoes are sweet. When cooked without any spices or extra flavors, they have a rich and sweet starchy flavor. Sweet potatoes are soft and stringy, especially when boiled or baked.
- Butternut squash is also a sweet vegetable. However, instead of a starchy flavor, there will be hints of nut. The texture is soft and dense. However, when cooked correctly, instead of the vegetable feeling dense, it should feel creamy.
Find out how Russet compared to Yukon Gold Potatoes in my latest article, Yukon Gold Potato vs Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?
Can You Substitute Butternut Squash with Sweet Potato?
There are few different approaches we can take to answer this question. In general, though, you can substitute butternut squash with sweet potato and vice versa. However, in some cases, the difference almost goes unnoticed.
In other situations, replacing one with the other might not be the best idea. Let’s take a look.
If you boil sweet potato and then mash it up, you can use it in almost any dish you would typically use butternut squash.
However, you won’t get the same nutty flavor which could significantly change the dish’s taste. Obviously, you can work around this by adding spices.
Sweet potatoes are not very good for desserts, whereas butternut squash, similar to pumpkin, can be used for dessert.
When making a roast, no adjustments need to be made. You can substitute one for the other. Both will give your dish a vegetable filled with nutrients and great flavors.
A popular debate about sweet potatoes is if it’s better than regular. Find out the answer in my article, Are Sweet Potatoes Healthier Than Regular Potatoes?
Sweet Potato vs Butternut Squash: Storage
Both butternut squash and sweet potatoes have similar storage methods 10. Although butternut squash need more room, they can both be stored in the same places 11.
How to Store Butternut Squash
- Butternut squash should be stored in a single layer and not piled on top of each other.
- Butternut squash shouldn’t be touching each other.
- Butternut squash should be kept in a cool, dark place away from heat or sunlight.
- Discard any butternut squash showing signs of decay or rot.
- Do not store with ethylene producing fruit or vegetables.
How to Store Sweet Potatoes
- Don’t store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator.
- Store sweet potatoes in a cool, ventilated container.
- Storing in basements or other places away from heat is ideal.
- Do not store with ethylene producing fruit or vegetables.
Both sweet potatoes and butternut squash are sensitive to ethylene producing fruit or vegetables 12. Ethylene is a gas released by some fruit or vegetables causing produce to ripen faster. The following is ethylene producing:
Smoothie Tip: Adding frozen fruit, instead of ice, enhances the flavor and nutrient content of the drink.
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Find out how Russet potatoes compared to red potatoes in my article, Red Potatoes vs Russet Potatoes: The Differences.
Is butternut squash fattening? Butternut squash is not fattening and is beneficial for weight loss because it’s low in calories and sugar. One cup of raw butternut squash only contains 63 calories and 3.1 grams of sugar. It has a low glycemic load which helps to prevent spikes in blood sugar.
What is better for bodybuilding, butternut squash or sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes are better for bodybuilding because it contains more protein and carbohydrates than butternut squash. The protein is beneficial for building and repairing muscle. The carbohydrates provide energy for exercise and help preserve the protein.
Is butternut squash a bad carb? Butternut squash is a healthy carbohydrate to consume. The carbohydrates contained in butternut squash are less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar because it has a low glycemic load.
Which has less carbs, butternut squash or sweet potato? Butternut squash has less carbs than a sweet potato. One cup of raw butternut squash contains 16.4 grams of carbohydrates while one cup of raw sweet potatoes contains 26.8 grams.
Find out how potato and rice nutritional values compared in my article, Potato vs. Rice Nutrition: Which is Better?
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Sweet Potato vs. Russet Potato: What’s The Difference?
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Red Potatoes vs Yukon Gold Potatoes: What’s The Difference?
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Turnip vs. Potato: What’s The Difference? Let’s CompareArticle Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
- NutritionData: Sweet potato, raw[↩]
- NutritionData: Squash[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Evaluation of bioactivity of butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata D.) seeds and skin[↩]
- Cleveland Clinic: Carbohydrates[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Anticancer effects of sweet potato protein on human colorectal cancer cells[↩]
- John Hopkins Medicine: Big Doses of Vitamin C May Lower Blood Pressure[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) [↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Nutrients for the aging eye[↩]
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Sweet potato (Ipomoea balatas [L.] Lam)–a valuable medicinal food: a review[↩]
- North Carolina Sweet Potatoes: How To Store Sweetpotatoes[↩]
- Iowa State University: What is the proper way to harvest and store winter squash?[↩]
- UCSD: Ethylene in Fruits and Vegetables[↩]